I am no scientist. I have no white lab coat. I am not going to quote a bunch of data. I am just a dad and an educator trying to learn how to help kids. Kids can learn while they play. Today at school while my son was playing, we had a major break through.
My son, The Dude, has autism. He would fall on the more severe end of the autism spectrum, but is still quite high functioning. He can answer some questions in context. However, he is still working on initiating appropriate conversation on his own. One of his favorite actors is Pee Wee Herman. We have DVDs of PeeWee’s Playhouse. We have watched his Christmas special on Netflix more times than we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He thinks Pee Wee is just hilarious. McKade found a toy pop up tent used by classmates to read and or calm down in. He took some paper, tape, crayons, glue, and a little help from his teachers and transformed that tent!
World, I would like you to meet Mr. Tent. A walking talking Pee Wee’s Playhouse piece of furniture come to life! Now, this may not seem like a big deal to you, but this is HUGE! Thanks to this opportunity to “Play” or “ACT” The Dude becomes Mr. Tent. Mr. Tent has his own voice and personality. You can ask Mr. Tent questions, and he will answer you. He will even start his own conversation with you. He can tell you how he is feeling that day. He will tell you he likes climbing on the monkey bars. He even will remind you to wear a helmet when riding a bike. Mr. Tent was even able to answer questions about a story “HE” read in class recently.
Just by taking a few minutes to encourage him to play, his teachers helped him stumble on an interest based outlet to communicate in ways he never has before! So thank you awesome teachers. Thank you Pee Wee’s Playhouse! The Secret Word is PLAY! Any time you hear the secret word scream real loud!
Click the link above to watch Mr. Tent come to life!
May the force be with you,